Update: May 5, 7:48 p.m.
According to a town spokesman, the attorney representing Crocus Lane Estates has indicated that they will request an adjournment of the May 8 meeting with the Hempstead Town Board. However, the meeting is still on the town board calendar and a formal request for adjournment would have to be made to the town board.
A company is looking to build a 50-unit senior housing development on the empty parcel of land located west of Crocus Lane in Levittown, but one thing might be standing in its way: the Long Island Motor Parkway.
The parkway closed in 1938, but residents and the Levittown Property Owners Association (LPOA) would like the the remnants preserved, rather than built on.
"I know some people in this audience want [the development], but that land was not meant to be disturbed the way it is now," Vice President Andy Booth said at the latest LPOA meeting. "That's a [historical] site."
According to NYCRoads.com, the parkway, also know as the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, was "a private toll road that eventually stretched for 45 miles from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma, one of the first concrete roads in the nation, and the first highway to use bridges and overpasses to eliminate intersections."
William Cohn, the attorney representing Crocus Lane Estates, LLC., the company looking to build the housing development, said that he has met with both the hierarchy of the LPOA and with the immediate budding neighbors several times over the last year. He said that his client has taken the LPOA's concerns into account.
"We have designed the buildings to match up with the character of the area," Cohn said. "The buildings have a low profile. We have made a landscaping
plan that will also be beneficial and fencing as well to separate the proposed homes from the adjoining properties."
The housing units are designed for owners ages 55 and older, however, residents ages 19 or older can live on the property, as along as the owner exceeds the required age.
Cohn also said that in an effort to keep the area local, the units will first be offered to residents of the Levittown Planned Residence District (LPRD) and then to parents of residents of the LPRD.
Howard Kroplick, president of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society, said at the LPOA meeting that he would help deter the development if that was what residents wanted.
"There is a historical perspective that you can do to delay [the development]," Kroplick said. "It worked about 20 years ago — they used the Motor Parkway as the reason not to develop here. You can make a strong case that you should preserve a section of this. It's part of American history, it's part of racing history, it's part of Long Island's history."
Kroplick also suggested using his contacts and going to Nassau County to help turn the property into a "beautiful park."
However, Cohn's objection is that the parkway is simply no longer in use.
"That parkway hasn't existed for decades," Cohn said. "... The Vanderbilts and people of that ilk would use it as some form of raceway, but it doesn't exist today."
The parcel of land has been the subject of a number of proposals since 1984. According to a 2009 story in the Levittown Tribune, during a LPOA meeting:
President [Jim] Morrow also read a letter from attorney William Cohn, representing the Josato Company (formerly Terra Homes), asking the LPOA to arrange a special meeting at the Levittown Library with residents adjacent to the section of the Old Vanderbilt Motor Parkway near Crocus Lane to discuss the company's new plans for building four houses on the property. All require variances for insufficient lot width. The company has unsuccessfully submitted various plans since 1984. The LPOA voted unanimously against this latest proposal at its Oct. 14, 2008 meeting. In this instance, as in the past, the variances again conflict with the standards set forth in Levittown's unique zoning law, the "LPRD."
The Hempstead Town Board will hold at hearing about the proposed Crocus Lane project at its meeting on May 8.